Snow in Games; Seasonal Memories

 

From sliding on the ice to shooting through walls of it, snow creeps into nearly every game

As I write this, it’s snowing heavily outside, and all is well with the world. Families are outside enjoying the climate, elderly couples are walking hand in hand through the ever growing blanket of snow, and children are giggling and laughing as they play with care-free abandon. Yep, there’s nothing like a heavy downfall of snow to wash away all the wrongs and problems of today’s landscape.

But this got me thinking. Firstly; why aren’t I out there enjoying it myself (ah yes, that restraining order), and secondly; what have been the fondest moments featuring snow in video games? Well, here are few that sprung to mind immediately:

Call of Duty 2 – Stalingrad

We’re in Russia, so there must be some snow. Yep, as the streets echoed with the distressing sound of gunfire and calls to arms, the snow casually fell all around. What made the snow so great in this early mission in COD2 was that it made the enemies easier to see, and therefore shoot; they were like little black ants running across the top of a cherry bakewell (I have no metaphor for the cherry, sorry).

TazMania – Artic Level

Back in the early nineties, nearly every platformer followed the same trend of level design; a hot level (preferably a desert), a level with machines, a level in a forest, a level in the snow, etc. In the classic Megadrive game, TazMania, it was no different, and the icy Arctic level soon popped up. One memory that stands out is when Taz, for some peculiar reason, fell in the icy water, he’d pop out again in a perfectly formed ice-cube. Someone please explain how that is technically possible!

Colin McRae Rally 2 – Rally of Finland

Driving on snow is not easy, even when you’ve stuck enough studs into your tires to drown a punk. But what made the Rally of Finland so hard in CM2, was the fact that it followed the Rally of France; which is 99% tarmac based. After spending hours powering round the cliff-face roads of France, driving with a very smooth, direct style, you had to go to the snow-coated tracks of Finland, and totally adapt your driving style. Man, it was tough, but still ultimately rewarding.

Fahrenheit – Nearly every single scene

This gloomy and edgy thriller was almost totally shrouded in snow. Every scene had some form of snow in it; whether it was falling at an alarming rate outside, or just dripping down a closed window inside. In a way, the snow only added to the tension of Fahrenheit, and gave the game an eerie dream-like quality that the developers were aiming for. Great game, and great snow.

Modern Warfare 2 – The snowmobile chase

Back to the Call of Duty series, and again, there’s lots more snow to play around in. In MW2, there are a large number of snow sections, mostly involving the snowy peaks of a hidden away military base. During one of these missions (where you’ve already had the delight of emptying a man’s bloody-innards onto the white snow) you have to evade enemy capture by escaping on a snowmobile. This isn’t just one of the best set pieces involving snow; it’s arguably one of the best set pieces of all time!

Half-Life 2: Episode 1 – Escaping Lowlife

I had to put at least one Half-life moment in here! After spending a long section of the game trying to escape the zombie-packed ruins of City 17’s underground, you finally made it back up to the surface. Although it’s not strictly snowing, there’s a little bit of snow in the air. This has to be one of the most relieving experiences I’ve ever had, and the previous excursions were also amongst the most draining. God, I love Half-Life!

Well there you have it, some brief memories of snow in games. Obviously there are far more than I’ve put here, and I’m bound to recall countless others once this piece goes live, but if you think of anymore, please make a note of them below this post.

Right, I’m off to enjoy what’s left of this once-a-year snow, though I’ll have to go under the cover of darkness; will this restraining order never end?

 

Scott Tierney

 

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